Your Ultimate Guide to Visiting Prince Edward County in the Summer
Prince Edward County may already be on your radar as the coolest place to visit in Ontario. About a 2.5-hour drive east of Toronto, many downtown dwellers have traded in their artist lofts for rural homes and made the move this island region on the shores of Lake Ontario, which is affectionately known as simply “The County”.
The result of this migration is an area with a flourishing art and gastronomy scene—on par with what you’d expect to find in the city—combined with all the charms of the provincial life: lavender fields, vineyards, beaches and plenty of ways to play in nature.
How to Spend a Weekend in Prince Edward County
Though it is possible to visit Prince Edward County in a day from Toronto, we highly suggest booking a weekend to get the most out of your stay. Given the County’s small size, a weekend allows you plenty of time to see it all. Here’s what you’ll want to include in your itinerary.
Prince Edward County Wine
While not as well known as Ontario’s most famous wine-making region, Niagara, Prince Edward County still holds its own as a top wine producer in Canada. Deep valleys with limestone bedrock and a high fruit concentration make it well-suited for a wide range of varietals. The most common specializations are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. However, since it’s still a relatively young and adventurous wine-producing region, many estates are experimenting with other grapes like Gamay, Riesling and Cabernet Franc.
There are close to 40 different wineries where you can arrange a tasting during your stay. Some of the best-known names include Sandbanks, Closson Chase, Huff Estates and Chadsey's Cairns. A tasting menu will likely cost you anywhere from 5 to 10 CAD for a sample of 3 to 5 wines. To ensure you have a fun and safe day touring the vineyards, we suggest hiring a private car and driver so you can enjoy your tastings to the fullest. We can help you out!
If wine isn’t your libation of choice, Prince Edward County has cider farms’ and breweries, too. Some of our favourites are the County Cider Company, located just down the road from Waupoos Winery (another goodie!) and the County Road Beer Garden at Hinterland Winery.
Restaurants in Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County has a fabulous food scene to pair with its delightful wine. Many of the estates serve snacks and meals alongside their wine, like the delicious picnic lunches from the Grange Winery. Hinterland Winery also offers seasonal and local menus served on a rustic outdoor patio.
Other fantastic options include:
East & Main Bistro - 70 Wellington Main St, Wellington, ON
For elevated and locally sourced comfort food in a charming bistro setting.
Flame + Smith - 106 Bloomfield Main St, Bloomfield, ON
Neo-bistro with a focus on woodfire cooking.
The Drake of Devonshire - 24 Wharf St, Wellington, ON K0K 3L0
The lake-view restaurant and bar serving regional cuisine and fab cocktails, with a waterfront deck and adjacent lakeside fire pit make sure to make a reservation, as this place is popular.
The Vic Cafe - 222 Picton Main Street, Picton
A modern diner with quality coffee and a passion for life-giving food. Loved by meat-lovers, vegans and vegetarians a-like, the menu is packed with delicious breaky options.
Slickers - 71 Bloomfield Main St, Bloomfield, ON & 232 Picton Main St, Prince Edward, ON
Tasty homemade ice cream with unique flavours in two locations:
Activities in Prince Edward County
After all that food and drink, you may want to get active. Watersports are an obvious choice around here, particularly at the Sandbanks Provincial Park, which is home to one of the largest and most beautiful beaches in Ontario. You can rent a canoe or kayak to paddle around the bay, embark on a sailing adventure or book a wakeboarding or waterskiing lesson.
There’s no shortage of land-based options, either. Hiking trails abound, lace up your boots for a walk on the hunt for waterfalls or rent a bike for rides along rural roads. Popular routes include the 40-km Western Wine Route, which starts in Bloomfield and passes by wineries like Keint-He, Sandbanks and Casa Dea, the 60-km Cressy Loop along Picton Bay or the 55-km Big Island Route for some lovely countryside and coastal pedalling.
This is a farming county so to get the full experience you’ll definitely want to make a trip to the unique farms in the area. We recommend the fragrant Prince Edward County Lavender farm or the SHED Chetwyn Farms for some alpaca appreciation.
Prince Edward County Hotels
Whether your tastes are traditional or more cutting edge, you’ll find accommodation to suit your stay among the following of our favourite options:
This cozy boutique hotel sits along the water’s edge and serves comforting, homestyle fare at its Lighthouse Restaurant.
Contemporary and cool, the Drake Devonshire is the sister property of one of our favourite Toronto hotels.